Truck services

Council begins discussion on rate increases for municipal services

(L-R) Stuttgart city council alderman David Leech, city prosecutor Robert Dittrich and mayor Norma Strabala.

Stuttgart City Council began discussing rate increases for garbage collection and other city services at its regular council meeting on Tuesday evening.

Alderman Darrin Haller asked to review the water rise rates at the September 20 council meeting. The item was placed on Tuesday’s agenda.

Mayor Norma Strabala said the monthly cost to residents for garbage pickup is $12 per month for twice-weekly pickup.

Strabala and the aldermen said they got awards from various places in Arkansas that are similar in size to Stuttgart.

Strabala said most towns the size of Stuttgart have once-a-week pickup with fees ranging from $12.50 at White Hall to $26 at DeWitt. They also got awards from other cities like Monticello, McGehee and Batesville.

Haller asked when the last rate increase was made. Strabala said 2007. After much discussion, the decision was made to compare the cost of waste disposal in 2007 to what it costs now.

“Everything went up,” Strabala said. “Nothing costs the same.”

Haller asked if the city should consider replacing garbage pickup with can service by phasing in buying cans now and adding equipment to one or two current garbage trucks.

“We can never afford to absorb that cost all at once,” Haller said.

Alderman Kyle Noble added that if the city did a pickup once a week, she feels the city should provide some sort of container.

However, Strabala said many cities they spoke with use bag pickup like Stuttgart and still only pick up once a week.

Alderman David Leech said regardless of their opinion, the city is facing a sharp increase in garbage collection.

“You’re looking at a massive increase,” he said. “I think the whole problem is that we haven’t (raised garbage prices) in 14 years.”

All the aldermen seem to understand that the price hike is necessary to prevent the city from falling into the red on the budget.

No decision was made after a long discussion. The council will receive the 2007 cost to the city for garbage collection and what it cost the city last year, in 2021. The council will then make an informed decision on how much to increase for garbage collection. garbage.

Haller added that the increase should not just be residential, but for all services across the city. Strabala agreed that it was not just about increasing household waste collection.

“It was just a starting point to find out where we are,” Strabala said. “We also need to look at water and sewer rates.”

No timetable has been set for making these decisions.

In other business, council voted to pass resolution 2022-06 to declare 520 N. Lowe, which is owned by Alton Hobbs, a nuisance property.

Code Enforcement Officer Eric Mahfouz said the property contains four buildings that need to be cleared, but there is only one package number and 911 address on file with the Arkansas County 911 office. Therefore, the four buildings can be condemned and set for demolition.

Aldermen Joe Alexander requested verification that the city is covered to condemn the property and the four buildings.

Mahfouz confirmed that under Arkansas law, the four buildings can be condemned together because they only have one address.

The board welcomed Robert Dittrich as city attorney, replacing Elizabeth Skinner, who was appointed district court judge for the Northern District of Arkansas County.

The board met in executive session at 6:07 p.m. to discuss a personnel matter. They returned to a regular session about 20 minutes later. A vote has been taken.

Alexander introduced a motion that “all city department heads, including the parks and recreation department, are under the direct supervision of the mayor.”

The motion was approved by council prior to the adjournment.

The next regular meeting of the Stuttgart city council will take place on Tuesday, October 18 at 5:30 p.m. in the town hall.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story named Elizabeth Skinner’s position as circuit judge. She is a District Court Judge for the Northern District of Arkansas County.